A pilot crowdfunding initiative at the University of New Orleans has exceeded its fundraising goal, generating more than $10,000 from 71 donors to support a College of Sciences program benefiting its freshmen students.
STEM Scholars Camp is an enrichment tool for freshmen entering academic programs involving science, technology, engineering or mathematics. The 5-day program—new at UNO—begins August 5 and supports three student groups focusing on algebra, calculus or biology. Camp programming is designed to help freshmen more easily transition to college and take some stress out of their first semester. Camp scholars will have the opportunity to connect with peers prior to the start of fall classes, develop study groups and learn about careers from professionals in STEM fields.
"Thanks to 71 alumni, current students, faculty and friends of UNO who donated to this worthy cause, the STEM Scholars Camp will provide incoming freshmen with an intensive pre-semester learning experience in STEM-related curricula to help ensure success in their declared major," said Wendy Schluchter, professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences.
A 2012 report from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology found that fewer than 40 percent of students who enter colleges with the intention of majoring in a STEM field complete a STEM degree. The camp experience is one way to increase students' chances of success, according to Schluchter.
The UNO Office of University Advancement partnered with the UNO Foundation in April to launch the STEM Scholars Camp crowdfunding initiative. The campaign was conducted via ScaleFunder, an affiliate of Ruffalo Noel Levitz, a higher education consulting firm which manages other development initiatives for UNO's Office of University Advancement. The campaign engaged alumni and other friends of the University, as well as STEM professionals in promoting the project via email and social media. ScaleFunder will be utilized to conduct future crowdfunding initiatives on behalf of other campus units and student organizations, according to Judith Roberson, UNO's director of development.
"ScaleFunder has been very supportive. They are experts in higher education crowdfunding, boasting a 98 percent success rate. The platform is a powerful tool for storytelling and awareness and can help campus leadership make so many things available to our students," said Roberson.